Materials

8 in 10 Brits want plastic warning label for clothes

Environmental organisation A Plastic Planet has run a poll amongst the British public which revealed that eight in 10 people (81 per cent) would like the Government to mandate labelling showing whether there is plastic in clothing and accessories.

The global solutions organisation conducted the Yonder poll across 2,091 UK adults.

JeansIt also revealed that 72 per cent of participants were unaware of the amount of plastic used to make clothing, while two-thirds were not aware of fashion’s impact on plastic pollution.

According to A Plastic Planet, 60 per cent of all material made into clothing is plastic.

As clothes are washed, they shed plastic synthetic fibres which then enter the environment. 

More than one-third of all microplastics released into the ocean are estimated to derive from these synthetic fibres.

Laundry alone causes half a million tonnes of these microfibres to be released into the seas every year, whilst 70 million barrels of oil are used annually in order to make polyester for garments, with its production releasing up to three times more carbon than natural materials.

Coinciding with the poll, retail expert and broadcaster, Mary Portas; author and Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Dr Shanna Swan; Fashion Revolution co-founder, Orsola de Castro; and former Green Party Leader, Caroline Lucas, have joined more than 40 parliamentarians, academics and campaigners in signing an open letter calling for the plastic labelling system.

With the majority of Britons unaware of fashion’s contribution to plastic pollution, the open letter urges the Government to implement a labelling system similar to that being rolled out under EU legislation, which shows where hidden plastic is present in certain single-use items. 

The group warns that if the Government is serious about combating the plastic crisis, it must tackle plastic pollution stemming from the fashion industry.

Campaigners warn that there must be far greater onus placed on plastic pollution deriving from the fashion industry, believing a clear labelling system will help consumers make informed decisions when considering the environmental impact of the clothing they buy.

They also suggest that labelling will make brands far more accountable for the plastic present in their clothing and accessories, as consumers look for more environmentally friendly products.

Sian Sutherland, A Plastic Planet co-founder, said of the poll: “For years the fashion industry’s impact on plastic pollution has gone under the radar.

“But now the truth is known on the huge volumes of fossil fuels being used to make our clothing and the plastic microfibres that are being shed into our air as we wear them, and flushed down our drains with every wash. “

“We are never going to collect or recycle these tiny toxic fibres.They will pollute our planet for centuries.”

“This is about transparency and choice. Shoppers deserve to know the impact their clothes are having on the planet.”

“Without clear labelling, we cannot choose to change. The Government must listen to public demand and introduce mandatory labels to show the hidden plastic in clothing.”

Retail expert and broadcaster, Mary Portas, said: “We’re becoming increasingly aware of the textile industry’s impact on the plastic crisis.

“Unbeknown to people, the essential act of washing clothing is resulting in millions of plastic microfibres polluting nature.”

“Consumers, who are more environmentally conscious than ever before, want to do the right thing and it’s only right they’re given the option when buying products to see what impact they will have.”

Former Leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas MP said: “Fashion is contributing significant amounts of plastic pollution to our natural habitats, but so far there has been very little accountability.  
  
“The Government says it wants the UK to be a world leader in tackling the plastic crisis.”

“If this is the case then it must consider the textile industry’s role in fuelling it.”